“You should be honored,” said the Vice-Counselor. “The Emperor has bestowed a great favor on your younger brother.”

“Imprisonment is not a favor,” said Wei. “My brother should be among family.”

“Your filial piety is impressive, but do not think that absolved you of responsibility should you oppose the Son of Heaven,” the Vice-Counselor replied. “The Emperor’s word is final.”

Wei was led into a large room, richly decorated, where many writing surfaces and quills with inkstones were on display. “Your brother and the other divine poets will be housed here, given access to food, drink, concubines, and the Imperial Library. All the Emperor asks in return is that their maddened scribblings continue to flow.”

“And why is that, exactly?” said Wei.

“For amusement. Many of the writings can be surprisingly beautiful. For insight, as well, since the shen spirits speak to them in an altogether different way.”